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2006: Detnews.com – Watson Floored… Coach overwhelmed by Southwestern tribute

June 24, 2008

DTSW_Floor.jpgDec. 21, 2006 – DETROIT — Perry Watson couldn’t hold back the tears as
he looked at the beautiful gym floor at Detroit Southwestern dedicated
in his name Wednesday evening.

Watson, head basketball coach of the Detroit Mercy Titans, first made a
name for himself in coaching at Southwestern. He guided the Prospectors
to a 302-34 record in 13 years, leading them to nine Class A title-game
appearances, including championships in 1990 and ’91.

Watson was greeted by numerous former players as he made his way
through the gymnasium doors to enter the dedication ceremony. He found
out why he was summoned to the school when the current Southwestern
players took off the rolls of paper that were covering the floor.

"This is unbelievable," Watson said. "I’ve had so many good times here.
So many lives have been touched. We all have a lot of love between us.
You always hope your time spent was appreciated. This shows a lot about
what Southwestern’s about.

"I had no idea this was going to happen. We’ve (the Titans) been going
through our struggles. This was a great surprise ? something I’ll
always remember."

Rose is benefactor

Former Southwestern and University of Michigan standout Jalen Rose, now playing with the Phoenix Suns, funded the operation.

"We were at the annual alumni throwback game in August and Jalen asked
me what we needed," Southwestern coach Brian Arnold said. "Last year,
Jalen supplied us with new uniforms. Well, I told him we needed the gym
floor done. He said there was one stipulation: that Coach Watson’s name
was on the floor. Jalen got the contractor and wrote the check."

Watson coached Southwestern from 1979-91. Arnold was on Watson’s first
Public School League championship team in 1980. Arnold played with
Antoine Joubert, who went on to play for Michigan.

"If anyone is deserving of something like this, it’s Coach Watson,"
Joubert said. "He did a tremendous job with all the kids and that’s why
this is dedicated to him. He taught us education comes first. He taught
us to help the younger kids. He taught us that family counts."

Rose couldn’t attend the ceremony due to his role with the Suns, but
his mother, Jeanne Rose, and grandmother, Mary Hicks, were present.

"I’m proud of Jalen," Jeanne Rose said. "Perry was more than a coach to
Jalen. He was also a mentor to him. He showed him how to become a young
man. Perry deserves this. I still go to Titans games. I feel I owe it
to Perry."

Perry taught life

Former Southwestern players Carlton King and Dannie Hayes were teammates on the championship teams.

"He meant a lot to me, not just as a coach, but also as a counselor,"
said King, who now works at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan. "He
taught us about responsibility and how to take care of business on and
off the court on a day-to-day basis."

Hayes played professional basketball for nine years overseas.

"We’re a family here and Coach Watson made it all happen," Hayes said.
"I always call Southwestern home. This is well-deserved. I was in awe
of it when I first saw the floor.

"He’s why I wanted to get into coaching. I still look him up for advice."

Hayes is a teacher and freshman basketball coach at Taylor Kennedy. King is an assistant at Southwestern.

Southwestern’s players got their first opportunity to practice on the
new floor Wednesday night. The Prospectors are 5-0. They were 9-11
during Arnold’s first season in 2004-05 and 14-7 last season.

"I love the floor," said senior guard Lloyd Harrison, who is being
recruited by Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Drexel and
Northeastern. "I’m looking forward to playing on it.

"Coach Watson started a legacy here. I’m glad we’re playing well. We’re trying to keep it going."

Southwestern will play its first game on the floor today against
Western. Watson and the Titans (2-8) will try to end their struggles
Friday at Calihan Hall when they face Northeastern.

Watson received an early Christmas present with the floor Wednesday. He hopes to get another in the way of a victory Friday.

You can reach David Goricki at david.goricki@detnews.com.

Watson’s legacy at Detroit Southwestern
*Perry Watson coached at Southwestern for 13 years, guiding the
Prospectors to a 302-34 record. They advanced to the Class A Final Four
10 times, earning consecutive championships in 1990 and ’91 and
finishing second seven times, including six straight (1982-87).
*They won nine city championships.
*Here is a list of Watson’s former Southwestern players who went on to careers in college basketball:
Kamau Alexander , UDM; Brian Arnold , Albion; Quincy Bowens , Butler;
Roland Brooks , Minnesota; Doyle Callahan , Washburn; Elton Carter ,
Penn State; Loren Clyburn , Purdue; William Clyburn , Siena Heights;
Howard Eisley , Boston College; Flinnoia Hall , Ferris State; Michael
Hamilton , UDM; Dannie Hayes , Ferris State; Derrick Hill , Stillman;
Joe Hines , Aquinas; Anderson Hunt , UNLV; James Hunter , Colorado;
Lamar Jackson , Bowling Green; Byron Johnson , Ferris State; Carleton
Johnson , Siena Heights; Johnny Johnson , Oakland; Bill Jones , Iowa.
Antoine Joubert , Michigan; Carlton King , Rhode Island; Voshon Lenard
, Minnesota; Mike Lovelace , UDM; Orlando Milton , West Va. Wesleyan;
Garland Mance , St. Bonaventure; Curtis Moore , Kent State; Montez
Perkins , Point Park; Ken Riley , Eastern Kentucky; Leslie Rockymore ,
Michigan; Jalen Rose , Michigan; Chauncey Scott , Central Michigan. Sam
Sillman , Eastern Michigan; Johnny Slater , Western Michigan; Randy
Steele , Siena Heights; Kiano Stewart , Aquinas; Keith Taylor , Bowling
Green; Derrick Vinyard , Cleveland State; Ronald Waller, Arizona State;
Terrance Watson , Siena Heights; Tarence Wheeler , Arizona State;
DeJuan Williams , Siena Heights; Kevin Williams , Weber State; Steve
Wise , Colorado; Marcus Wourman , Albion.

David Goricki / The Detroit News